When Words Lose Their Meaning

by Tim Hall
Have some of our most used words become hollow?
Tell someone “You’re the bee’s knees” and you may get a blank stare. “Bee’s knees?” they might respond. “What in the world are you talking about?”
There was a time when that phrase was used as a compliment, a term of affection. But those words have now lost their meaning for most of our society.
It can happen with words that we use frequently. Though we attempt to convey a message, for one reason or another, the words we use have lost their meaning. Let me suggest a couple of common examples.
“I love you” is often spoken between husbands and wives. But does the phrase still have the meaning it once did? If one rarely makes time for the other, or if one has abused the trust of the other, the words become hollow.
You might say “I love you,” many times a day, but if you don’t back up those words with appropriate actions, they are meaningless. Just hearing the words in the absence of visible proof of love can make the other angry.
“I’m sorry” is another phrase that can be drained of any meaning. How easy it is to produce the vocal sounds! When we have stepped over the boundaries of another’s trust, we quickly say “I’m sorry!”
But will it mean anything to the other? If this is the umpteenth time we have committed this transgression, the words are no longer sufficient. It’s time to back up the words with appropriate (changed) behavior.
I’ve chosen to highlight these phrases because they are often used in our most significant relationships: with our spouses, and with our Lord. But do they mean anything any longer? Are we attempting to avoid altering our behavior by using our “get-out-of-jail-free” words?
Jesus warned us against speaking words without giving appropriate consideration to their meaning.

“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36, 37, NKJV).

Considering their potential for harm, every word should be spoken carefully. And when I speak to the ones I love most, let me make absolutely sure my actions verify the message I’m attempting to send. God’s words are infallibly true (Romans 3:4).
Do I come close to his standard?

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